IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 23, 1999


1. The 31st ROK-US Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) was held in Washington on November 23, 1999. ROK Minister of National Defense Cho Seong Tae and US Secretary of Defense William Cohen led their respective delegations, which included senior defense and foreign affairs officials. Before the SCM, the Chairmen of the respective Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Cho Yung Kil and General Henry Shelton, presided over the 21st ROK-US Military Committee Meeting (MCM) also on November 23.

2. Minister Cho and Secretary Cohen assessed the current international security situation and the security environment in and around the Korean Peninsula. They reaffirmed that the security of the Korean Peninsula is vital to the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region as well as to the security of the United States. Both Ministers noted the significant contributions that the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty and US and ROK forces have made, and continue to make, to the deterrence of war on the Korean Peninsula and to the stability of Northeast Asia.

3. Both Ministers reaffirmed that matters involving the Korean Peninsula should be resolved primarily through direct dialogue between South and North Korea, as the parties directly concerned. To this end, they emphasized that dialogue between the authorities of the South and the North should be resumed to implement the "Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression, and Exchange and Cooperation between the South and the North" (the South-North Basic Agreement) of 1992.

Secretary Cohen expressed his appreciation for the ROK Government's efforts to lay a firm foundation for the promotion of exchange and cooperation between South and North Korea through active implementation of its engagement policy, which is based on three principles: 'no tolerance for any armed provocation, no pursuit of unification by absorption, and promotion of reconciliation and cooperation.'

Secretary Cohen noted the achievements the ROK Government has made in its engagement policy as witnessed in the Mountain Kumgang Tour and the proposed West Coast Industrial Complex projects. He also expressed his hope that the ROK Government's consistent efforts to promote reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea would achieve the intended results. Both Ministers also agreed that a strong ROK-US combined defense posture ensuring firm security on the Peninsula is essential for the ROK Government's engagement policy to attain its objectives.

4. Secretary Cohen and Minister Cho welcomed the recent developments in US-DPRK relations developing out of the Perry review process and the September and November rounds of talks in Berlin. The Ministers concurred that continued progress on a comprehensive approach is important to laying the foundation for peaceful coexistence and ending the Cold War on the Korean Peninsula. They also expressed their hope that continuing US-DPRK discussions will provide the political foundation for improved bilateral relations and will also contribute to progress in South-North dialogue. Minister Cho and Secretary Cohen commended the close consultation and coordination among the ROK, US, and Japan during the course of Dr. Perry's policy review, and also expressed their commitment to maintain this close trilateral coordination as they pursue a comprehensive approach toward North Korea.

5. Minister Cho and Secretary Cohen concurred that positive progress in the Four Party Talks is important for the reduction of tension and establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. In this regard, they noted the accomplishment of the four parties in pursuing substantive discussions during the fourth, fifth, and sixth plenary sessions through two subcommittees: one on tension reduction and the other on establishment of a peace regime on the Peninsula. The two Ministers also expressed their hope that the seventh plenary session will produce more substantive progress toward the objectives of the talks. Both Ministers reaffirmed that the Military Armistice Agreement of 1953 remains valid and should be observed until superseded by a permanent peace arrangement. They shared the view that the ongoing General Officer-level dialogue, agreed to by the United Nations Command and the Korean People's Army, will contribute positively to maintenance of the Armistice Agreement, as well as crisis management along the DMZ.

6. Secretary Cohen and Minister Cho reaffirmed that the "Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," concluded in February 1992, should be fully implemented and that North Korea's pledge in the US-DPRK Agreed Framework to freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon and Taechon should be faithfully upheld. The two Ministers concurred that smooth implementation of the light-water reactor (LWR) project in North Korea is critical to the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. With regard to the suspect underground construction in North Korea, the two Ministers expressed their satisfaction that access to the site, which will continue in the future by agreement with North Korea, had allayed suspicions about the nature of the site.

7. Secretary Cohen and Minister Cho expressed concern about the threat that North Korea continues to pose to US and ROK national interests on the Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. With regard to the June naval clash, both Ministers urged the North to accept the practical value of, and abide by, the Northern Limit Line, which has been an effective means of separating South and North Korean military forces and thus preventing military tension for forty-six years. They expressed concern that North Korea, despite profound economic difficulties, continues to develop and produce major weapons systems, such as submarines, long-range artillery, and ballistic missiles. They also noted that North Korea's chemical and biological weapons pose a threat to ROK and US security interests and urged North Korea to abide by international conventions banning the production, possession, and use of these weapons. In particular, they stressed that North Korea should accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention without delay. Both Ministers once again reaffirmed that North Korean use of weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons would not be tolerated in any situation.

8. The two Ministers assessed positively North Korea's September 1999 announcement that it will not test-launch another missile for the duration of US-DPRK negotiations to improve relations, and urged the North to cease its testing, development, deployment, and export of missiles. They also shared the view that the US and ROK will squarely address the threat posed by North Korea's missiles by continuing close consultations and maintaining a solid combined defense posture.

9. Secretary Cohen and Minister Cho agreed that the ROK-US security alliance is stronger than ever and that combined defense readiness should be steadfastly maintained against a wide range of possible threats. The two Ministers stressed that the combined ROK-US forces on the Peninsula are a defensive force that should continue to maintain and develop combined readiness, tactics, doctrine, professionalism, training, and interoperability. Secretary Cohen reaffirmed the US commitment to render prompt and effective assistance to the ROK in deterring and repelling any armed attack against the ROK in accordance with the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty. The US also reaffirmed its commitment to provide a nuclear umbrella for the ROK. The two Ministers agreed that in case of an emergency on the Korean Peninsula, the US and the ROK will closely cooperate in dealing with the situation.

In this regard, they discussed several practical steps, including the timely deployment of US reinforcements in an emergency. Both Ministers shared the view that robust combined exercises are vital to deterring war on the Peninsula and enhancing combined readiness and noted the significant progress the ROK has made in chemical and biological defense preparedness.

10. Regarding the long-term future of the bilateral security alliance, the Ministers reaffirmed that the ROK-US security alliance will play a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, which is essential to the process of reunification. They also expressed their belief that the US and ROK will continue to share democratic values and security interests even after the immediate threat to stability has receded on the Korean Peninsula. The two Ministers concurred that the alliance will serve to bolster peace and stability in Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. They also agreed that the two countries will most effectively promote their common values and interests by maintaining their bilateral security alliance for the long term, while adapting it to changing circumstances. In this regard, the two Ministers agreed to discuss the long-term development of ROK-US security relations for the 21st century through periodic working-level security dialogues.

11. The Ministers pledged that the two governments would make joint efforts through the Bilateral Coordinating Group to establish the facts of what happened at No Gun Ri. Both also noted that the No Gun Ri incident will not undermine the close bilateral cooperation based upon trust and friendship built over nearly fifty years of partnership. In that regard, both Ministers agreed that the process should be thorough, complete, and transparent, and concluded as quickly as possible.

12. Secretary Cohen and Minister Cho agreed to work together closely in completing the SOFA revision process as expeditiously as possible. Both Ministers agreed that adjusting the ROK's current voluntary restraint on missiles should be accomplished as soon as possible in accordance with the MTCR guidelines.

13. Minister Cho and Secretary Cohen expressed their appreciation for the important contributions of the SCM subcommittees on policy review, logistics cooperation, security cooperation, and defense technology and industry cooperation. They looked forward to seeing the positive work begun under the ROK-US Joint Working Group on Acquisition Matters continue through the efforts of the SCM subcommittees and proactive efforts by the industries of both countries. The two Ministers also agreed to pursue expeditious conclusion of technical arrangements and annex to the Wartime Host Nation Support Agreement (WHNS) on the basis of agreed cost-sharing principles.

14. The two delegations agreed that the 31st SCM and the 21st MCM provided an excellent opportunity to further solidify the ROK-US security alliance and address issues related to the current and future security relationship. Secretary Cohen and Minister Cho agreed to maintain close consultations and to hold the next SCM at a mutually convenient time in 2000 in Seoul.

15. Minister Cho expressed his gratitude to Secretary Cohen for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality and also for the excellent arrangements that made this meeting a success.